Antonia Bird's RAVENOUS argues convincingly for vegetarianism. Bird,
reportedly a vegetarian herself, creates a relentless, gothic horror
tale of cannibalism set in the old west of the rugged Sierra Nevada
Capt. John Boyd, played by Guy Pearce from L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, is a
coward and an accidental war hero from the Mexican-American War of 1847.
He is assigned to a remote "fort," where he and 7 others live in squalor
like barbarians. They all act like they've been smoking too much of the
One day a nearly dead Scotsman named Colqhoun, played with great gusto
by Robert Carlyle from THE FULL MONTY, stumbles into their remote
outpost and relates a story that shocks everyone. A dead-ringer for
Charles Manson, he claims to have been part of a party of 6 settlers
whose covered wagons got trapped in the winter snows after they took a
"shortcut." Starving, they ate their animals, their leather and then
each other. He says that a few are still alive, so the fort's
inhabitants go to rescue them. The Native-American in the group warns
presciently about a legend that those who have tasted human flesh are
made stronger and must have more.
What with the flashbacks and the violence in the present, your stomach
will quickly be tested. Most of the film is little more than an adult
version of a teen slasher flick, but some of the staging is imaginative.
When trapped, one of the characters jumps off of a high cliff knowing
full well that only the tree limbs far down below can break his fall.
Anthony B. Richmond's cinematography gives the picture a sharp and
handsomely startling look. Michael Nyman's quirky music does its best
to transform the gruesome drama into a black comedy.
If you go, whatever you do, don't stand near the exits. If you do, you
will be in danger of being crushed by walkouts who are heading for the
bathrooms. And if you are crushed to death, consider what might be your
fate when those who like the movie see you dead on the floor. It's not
a pretty picture.
RAVENOUS runs 1:40. It is rated R for considerable gore, strong
violence and brief nudity and would be acceptable only for older
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes